Archive for the ‘retail’ Category

Exploring Seattle: Killing Off Seattle Landmarks

Last Day for Espresso Vivace, courtesy of HonuPhoto

With Ryan’s report on Asteroid Cafe closing, I realized that somehow, in the short time I’ve been here I’ve managed to make it to nearly every notable spot that’s been closed down or demolished a grand total of once.

On that list:

1. Crocodile– Shortly after moving here in February of last year, my friend’s band came through town and played at the Crocodile. It didn’t close until December, but I only managed to get there once. And I really meant to go to the I Heart Rummage show. I know it’s moved on to Chop Suey, but it seems to me like the Crocodile was the perfect location for it.

2. Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen- First Iteration– A pair of friends took us to Bimbo’s in spring of 2007. I loved it- the kitschy decorations, the fun stuff under the tables, and so much pink! It was fabulous. But its entire block was demolished, and while it managed to move in elsewhere on Capitol Hill, it just hasn’t been the same. I miss the old one that wasn’t decorated entirely in Mexican wrestling decor…

3. The Sunset Bowl– It’s all in the post, but I only got there once for a friend’s mid-winter party before it closed down in the spring.

4. The aforementioned Asteroid Cafe. Again, it’s in the post, but I never did make it back for that romantic date (well, guess I’ve got two weeks).

5. The Vivace at Cal Anderson Park. A good friend took me there for a cup of coffee this spring, not more than a month before they closed. I found out the hard way, by trying to take my parents to the loveliest coffee shop in the city while they were visiting in mid-July and walking up to boarded doors and windows. It was incredibly sad to lose that location, particularly to lose it so soon after discovering it.

So, I’m kind of feeling like the Typhoid Mary of Seattle businesses these days. The time between visit and closing seems to get shorter and shorter, in addition. But one of my fellow Metbloggers suggested that instead of being sad about my anti-Midas touch, I use my powers for good and not evil. With great power comes great responsibility and all.

So, Metblog readers, what businesses do you really want to see move on and be replaced by condos and light rail? I’ll be happy to go visit them, and keep you updated on their impending demise immediately following.

New Kindle Aimed at Students

Photo courtesy of Flickr user John Pastor.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user John Pastor.

Our favorite local virtual big box retailer is set to release an updated version of its mysteriously bestselling e-book reader. Kindle 2.0 should be available in late September or early October, according to BusinessWeek. In addition to a larger screen, a less clunky design, and fixes to some of the more annoying UI features, the new Kindle is rumored to be aimed at students. Given the notoriously bad manufacturing and supply chain issues, I would expect the new Kindle to be consistently sold out until Fall of 2010.

Do you have a Kindle? Do you like it? I’ve still never seen one in the wild. I’m starting to think that a good scavenger hunt task would be to find someone with a Kindle and have your picture taken with it.

[via Business Week, Ars Technica]

Fall Sale at Swanson’s Nursery

If you are starting a new garden or just looking to fill in some bare spots in an existing garden, then be sure to make it to Swanson’s for their annual fall sale. This is one of the best deals in the city for gardeners – all trees, shrubs and vines are 40% off and perennials, herbs and groundcovers are 25% off. Fall is the best time to put in new plants, since mother nature takes care of watering everything in for you, and you’re off to a great start next Spring.

The sale starts this Thursday, August 28 and goes through September 28. It’s always very crowded the first weekend, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that they bring in new inventory throughout the sale. So do yourself a favor and wait until after the first weekend to go, but by all means go check it out!

Swanson's nursery photo from brewbooks on flickr.

Classy Airport Drinkin’

Memories of drinking in airports take me back to Chicago’s O’Hare, and dingy, smoky bars with a newspaper-theme and hot dogs under a heat lamp. My, how things have changed.

All dark leather chairs and soothing, sterile white, Vino Volo, in SeaTac’s Central Terminal, has wines light years beyond the Gallos and Columbia Crests of the world. I enjoyed a nice bone-dry French rosé and a glass of bubbles (a dangerously refreshing, all-Chardonnay French sparkler). I also appreciated the informative coasters with information about the wine:

In addition to sipping wine at the bar, Vino Volo also sells full bottles to go. In fact, everything you try there is available for purchase. Since Vino Volo is past the security checkpoints, you can buy a bottle to bring with you on your flight. (But you do have to wait until you get to your destination to uncork it.) The selection is, naturally, Washington-heavy, but I was able to spot some impressive Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rhone selections. (I am a bit of a Francophile when it comes to wine.)

UVillage Expansion

University Village Expansion Overhead Photo

As a followup to this May Times article about University Village’s expansion plans (highlight: a huge new parking garage on the south edge, just north of the Viaduct), I was curious to see what the building permits would look like when superimposed on overhead imagery of the current mall layout. Areas in red above represent new construction — you can see the way that surface parking is gradually being replaced by stacked garages as the area becomes more dense. And as the graphic shows, that Key Bank on 45th isn’t long for this world.

UVillage Parking Mishap

Everyone always complains how much space trucks and SUVs take up in parking lots, but this is a new low:

Parking Mistake

Actually, it appears this afternoon’s incident was the result of an under-the-influence driver, who fled on foot after an ill-fated attempt to negotiate the ramp down from 25th Ave. Police, fire trucks, and UV’s own Security are out in force to deal with the results.

Starbucks to cut 1,000 jobs

No matter what you think of Starbucks, it’s never good news when a company announces job cuts of around 1,000 people. In a letter to employees, CEO Howard Schultz announced the job cuts, which include about 550 layoffs (the rest will come from natural attrition). About 180 of those positions will be in the Seattle area both at the SODO headquarters and another regional office in the area. This is after February job cuts numbering 600 (220 through layoffs).

They are also closing a number of stores in Australia and laying off 685 workers there as well.

The full story is in the Seattle Times.

Now I personally don’t drinks Starbucks coffee. I don’t much like the taste and given the choice, I’m going to pick a fair or direct trade coffee bean that I know was roasted recently. I could even joke about the fact that there are some intersections downtown where even recently released Mariner (and now Yankee) Richie Sexon could hit a baseball from one store to another. All right, maybe Sexon couldn’t do it. Vidro?

However, not only do I hate to see anyone laid off, but there is one circumstance where I will patronize a Starbucks. When I travel, I often find myself without a car in an unfamiliar location, and while locating an independent coffee shop with fair trade coffee is incredibly easy in Seattle, it isn’t very easy in say, Orlando. Starbucks is predictable and dependable. I know when I walk into a Starbucks, that I can order my triple iced Americano and it will be pretty much the same triple iced Americano I’d get at any other Starbucks.

Hopefully Schultz knows what he’s doing. What do you think? Does he?

Edited to add: And in other Starbucks News, My Ballard has an interesting post on Starbucks’ acquisition of Clover. Apparently they are refusing to sell any more Clover machines to any independent coffee shop. This is one of those moves that prompts all of the Starbucks hate that runs rampant in this town. I have to admit, given how much I love my Clover coffee, this really frosts me as well.

hundreds flood southcenter H & M

At last, the moment we have all been waiting for. Now all of the stuff that you used to buy at H & M when you were in other cities can be obtained (semi-) locally. Whether this instantly diminishes some of the appeal of cheapish good design is a matter of personal preference. For now, though, the crowds at Southcenter Mall are strong and deep for the grand opening of Seattle’s first (of three this year) H & M stores.

Ryan sends this pic, live at the scene:

photo by ryan; live from the mall.

Meet Your Local Farmers Market Vendors: Sister Sage Herbs

Jayne from Sister Sage
Jayne Simmons is one of the happiest vendors at the local farmers markets. Every time I see her, she’s got the biggest smile on her face. Not only does she sell products designed to help you feel better, but talking to her always leaves me happy. Her passion for her products and way of life is obvious from the first moment you visit her booth. I spent some time talking with her in person and over email a few weeks ago and she agreed to be interviewed for Seattle MetBlogs.

Continue after the jump to read the interview.

iPhone 3G launch day

Below, a snapshot of the line at the front of the Apple Store in University Village, for those lucky few who had made it to the front at around 12:30 today. The back of the line stretched all the way across the façades of nearby stores, then made a 90° turn to continue through the parking lot and ended up at the building housing Zao Noodles.

Line for iPhone 3G at Apple Store, University Village

God knows what the scene was like earlier, but one possibility is that the line has actually grown over time as massive slowdowns in the iTunes infrastructure necessary for the mandatory in-store activation have hobbled the launch of Apple’s highly-anticipated new phone.

Any reports from line survivors, either in AT&T stores or Apple Stores in the area?

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